Laura Kenny: ‘I wish female issues weren’t taboo’

Interview by Juliana Piskorz
The Guardian
<span class="element-image__caption">Laura Kenny: ‘I want young girls to feel they can talk about these things.’</span> <span class="element-image__credit">Photograph: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com/Rex/Shutterstock</span>
Laura Kenny: ‘I want young girls to feel they can talk about these things.’ Photograph: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com/Rex/Shutterstock

I didn’t really enjoy cycling when I started, but my dad used to work so hard that we only spent time together on the weekends and he’d want us to go cycling as a family. So I think that’s why I grew to love it, because it meant spending a couple of hours with Dad.

When I was born I had a collapsed lung, which gave me asthma. It was pretty severe when I was a kid. When I was diagnosed I cried my eyes out. But I’ve pretty much grown out of it. Now I only get it on really dusty days. At the Rio Olympics we warmed up in the velodrome and I remember thinking: ‘I feel it coming back on.’

I thought I’d be prepared for pregnancy, but you never are. At first I was sleeping for 11 or 12 hours a night and then I couldn’t sleep for longer than two hours. I do get used to training on no sleep, but it’s really tough. Fortunately my husband, Jason [Kenny], and I work really well as a team, especially when it comes to our son, Albie.

I breastfed Albie for six months and there wasn’t much Jason could really help with in the night, but he would change the nappies. A passenger on a train recently rolled their eyes at me when I was breastfeeding, it’s hard enough breastfeeding without someone making you feel judged.

When Jason and I were writing our book, The Inside Track, I made a point of bringing up periods and being on the pill to control them because it’s so important to me. I want young girls to feel they can talk about these things if there’s an issue, especially as an athlete because it is hard to train when you’re on your period. I wish female issues weren’t taboo. There is nothing I won’t share with my coach because it’s important for me to get it off my chest.

Soreen is giving away £250 of Halfords vouchers, to be spent on cycling equipment, every day over the summer. For more information, go to soreencycleproject.com

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